Energy Efficiency Taskforce: UK Government chooses Lord Callanan and Alison Rose as co-chairs

The UK Government has chosen co-chairs for its new Energy Efficiency Taskforce, which will work to identify and reduce the barriers to reducing energy use in buildings and heavy industry, in turn reducing bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Efficiency Taskforce: UK Government chooses Lord Callanan and Alison Rose as co-chairs

The Taskforce was first confirmed late last year by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. At the Autumn Statement in November 2022, Hunt set a new target to cut absolute energy use in buildings and industry by 15% by 2035. He confirmed £6bn of additional energy efficiency spending for 2025 and beyond, plus the creation of the Taskforce to contribute to the design and allocation of future funding schemes. Hunt emphasised the importance of energy efficiency to energy security, economic growth and the delivery of the net-zero transition.

Energy Security and Net-Zero Secretary Grant Shapps has stated that focus areas of the Taskforce will include investment, skills and product supply and innovation.

Lord Callanan will be the co-chair of the Taskforce from within the Government, it has been confirmed this evening (20 February). Callanan has been a member of the House of Lords since 2014 and, in early 2020, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). He has this month been transferred into the same post at the newly-created Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero.

Last year, Callanan said he “entirely accepted” criticisms of the Conservative Government’s track record on improving energy efficiency in homes. The UK plays host to one of the least energy-efficient building stocks in Europe but various national schemes, including the Green Deal and Green Homes Grant, failed to deliver their full impact due to flaws in design and execution.

Co-chairing the Taskforce alongside Callanan will be Alison Rose, the chief executive at Natwest. Rose has worked at the banking group for the best part of three decades, working her way up from graduate level. She has been chief executive since 2019.

Under Rose, Natwest committed to at least halve the climate impact of financial activities and decisions by 2030 and to achieve net-zero by 2050 at the latest. It subsequently pledged £100bn for sustainable funding and financing for the five-year period between 2020 and 2025, including green mortgages and new finance products for retrofitting.

Commenting on her Taskforce appointment, Rose said: “Addressing the climate crisis is a team sport, and building vital partnerships between the public and private sector is the key to tackling this challenge at pace.

“Improving energy efficiency will not only drive a lower carbon environment, but also deliver greater economic security through lower bills for people, families, and businesses right across the UK.”

There is currently no further information on Taskforce membership beyond that of the two co-chairs. We can expect more information in the coming weeks.

Green growth focus

Rose and Callanan’s appointments will be amplified at a Treasury Connect event in East London on Tuesday (21 February). The event will convene almost 100 representatives from firms in low-carbon sectors such as the manufacturing of energy-efficiency products. The Government has stated that the purpose of the meeting is “to gather up the best ideas for driving growth” in these sectors.

Official government statistics released this month confirmed that the number of UK-based jobs in low-carbon and renewable energy sectors in 2021 was almost 40,000 higher than in 2020. The Office For National Statistics confirmed the UK hosted some 247,400 full-time equivalent roles in 2021, up from 207,800 in 2020.

This is a new record, but the UK still is not on track to host two million green jobs by 2030, as pledged by the Conservative Party under Theresa May.

The ONS also confirmed a 30.8% year-on-year increase in turnover between 2020 and 2021, to £54.4bn. Energy-efficient products accounted for more than one-third (36%) of turnover in 2021.

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